This probably would have gotten four stars from me until the last 100 or so pages when it goes to pieces and descends into predictable melodrama. As is it hovers between two and three stars, that’s how much this ending irritated me.
Detective Rob Ryan has a secret. He was the lone survivor out of three twelve year olds. Then Adam Ryan and his two best friends Jamie and Peter were playing in the woods of Knocknaree Ireland. Jamie and Peter disappeared never to be seen again. Adam was found clinging to a tree, his knees scratched up and his shoes filled with blood that isn’t his own. Adam lost his memory of that day and in spite of the blood evidence it was first investigated as a runaway then they pulled out all the stops.
Fast forward a couple decades. Ryan has been in boarding school in England. He has an English accent, is going by his middle name and is on the murder squad in Ireland. His partner is Cassie Maddox and the book does slow to a crawl in the first few chapters going over all of this and I nearly quit then but Ryan and Cassie were interesting so I stuck it out. Long story short, Ryan and Cassie are best friends close. This is important to remember.
When they get the case of a young girl murdered and laid out on a stone altar it’s in Knocknaree. No one but Cassie knows Ryan is the boy from the possible child killing back in the 80’s. Naturally he doesn’t do the intelligent thing and tell his boss and get off the case (and robbing us of a story). You know this is going to be back to bite him in the ass and it does and that still isn’t why the ending irritated me.
Katy Devlin, young wannabe ballerina is found at an archeology site that’s in maximum overdrive because the new motorway is about to destroy it. Her dad is the man trying to stop it. She is found on a stone altar, head bashed in, smothered and sexually assaulted. Was this to pay back her father? Did her father do it? Was it a crazed stranger? Does it hook into the disappearance of Jamie and Peter 20 years ago?
Over the next four hundred and some pages, it weaves all over these ideas. We get bits of Ryan’s past as he and Cassie try to work thru his own spiraling descent. Sam, their third partner, doesn’t even know it’s going on. Rosalind, Katy’s sister keeps hinting at dark secrets in her family as she gets a little close to Ryan.
I hate ruining the endings in a review but at one point Ryan goes out into the woods to try and reclaim his own past and at that point it’s like French found a friend, described the story and told them to finish it. As arrogant as it sounds to say the author is writing her own characters out of character but that’s just what it felt like. After 300 pages to have Ryan turn into a sudden asshole and how he and Cassie handle an otherwise close relationship is laughable. To the point that I passed on winning the next novel by French. I felt like I couldn’t trust her after this ending. Maybe I’ll change my mind and read another one but I’m not sure.